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Congress Party in India needs leadership change
By N. S. Venkataraman

The dynastic character of Congress leadership has thrown Rahul Gandhi into the leadership position of Congress, with no justification except that he hails from a particular family, which appears to “own” the Congress party.

It is now well realized by discerning people all over India, who are not involved in politics, that Indian democracy is suffering to some extent due to lack of principled and credible opposition party in the parliament. The absence of such AN opposition party in India today is a matter of concern.

Unfortunately, most of the opposition parties in India are essentially regional outfits and most of them are family-controlled parties and have little presence in several states.

The Communist and Marxist Communist parties have virtually reduced themselves to the level of regional outfits, as the leadership has not moved with the time and modified traditional communist philosophy, which has outlived its purpose. Due to advancements in science and technology and industrial practices and changed types of growth and management practices in the commercial and industrial sector, now new types of conflicts have arisen in the country between the organized class and unorganized class. Even airline pilots, employees in software companies, and those employed in commercial banks, etc. are claiming trade union rights or organizing themselves in the trade union pattern.

In such circumstances, the communist parties in India remain confused, as the organized class of people who cannot be considered by any stretch of the imagination as an oppressed and suppressed class are members of trade unions under the control of the Communist parties. Obviously, the communist parties have lost their sense of identity.

The only country which claims itself to be a communist country namely China is liberally adopting capitalist policies. Many people think that communism as a political philosophy has lost its sheen all over the world.

With both the communist parties out of reckoning as national parties, the only political party left now on the national scene is Indian National Congress.

It does not call for much analysis and deliberation to conclude that the Congress party is now facing a crisis of confidence and leadership. No one knows today as to what the Congress party stands for, as it has aligned itself with Shiv Sena in Maharashtra to form the government, though Shiv Sena was branded as a non secular and communal party by the Congress party earlier. Has Shiv Sena become a secular party overnight for the present leadership of the Congress party?

The main allegation against the Congress party successfully made by BJP is that Congress is a dynastic party and essentially controlled by one family. Many believe this to be true and a fact. By and large, the general public is convinced that Congress party leadership is concerned largely about the welfare of one family, which is an anachronistic approach for a political party in a democratic country.

The dynastic character of Congress leadership has thrown Rahul Gandhi into the leadership position of Congress, with no justification except that he hails from a particular family, which appears to “own” the Congress party.

By his conduct and speeches, Rahul Gandhi has clearly created an impression that he has no particular attributes to lead a national party. He’s hugging the Prime Minister in the parliament when the parliament session was on and then sarcastically winking his eyes, to be seen by several members of parliament, has made many people suspect that he could be lacking maturity. Along with Rahul Gandhi’s image, the image of the Congress party has also taken a beating, as he was imposed as President of Congress party.

It is in the national interest and in the interest of Indian democracy that the Congress party should be revived and should be enabled to function as a principled and forward-looking party and get back its credentials.

Obviously, the Congress party cannot be revived without the effective leadership of the party being vested in the hands of a senior and tested person in the party, who is not from the Gandhi family and who will not be a blind loyalist of the family. He should have the courage of conviction to stand by the principle of the party so that the party men will get a sense of purpose.

Looking into the present structure and style of functioning of the Congress party, even as Rahul Gandhi says that he is not interested in the position of the President of the party, he is practically functioning as de facto President of the party. It seems that the Gandhi family will never give up control of the party, whatever may be the cost. This situation calls for some sort of determined and dignified rebellion in the Congress party, that would inevitably make the Gandhi family realize that their period of lordship over the Congress party is now clearly over.

The obvious alternate leader who has the stature to become the president of the Congress party is Ghulam Nabi Azad. He started as a youth congress leader and has always conducted himself with decorum and dignity, whether he has been in the government or outside. He has refrained from making obnoxious and abusive remarks against the members of the opposition parties unlike many other leaders in the Congress party today. He has the image of dignity personified. He looks far taller than any other leader in the Congress party today,

When Prime Minister Modi praised him in Rajya Sabha, it was well-deserved praise. There is absolutely no reason to think that it is “political praise” and Ghulam Nabi Azad responded to the Prime Minister’s praise with dignity, which reflects on the quality and standard of this political leader.

India has seen in the past lofty scenes like Jawaharlal Nehru and Rajaji praising each other on occasions, though they were in the opposition camps after independence.

The consensus feeling in the country appears to be that Ghulam Nabi Azad can raise the standards of politics in India to a more dignified and lofty level and raise the respect for the Congress party in the country today.

A mature political leader like Ghulam Nabi Azad can be critical of the ruling party even without using abusive language. By way of contrast, Rahul Gandhi called the Prime Minister a thief, which Ghulam Nabi Azad would never do.

N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.
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